What Is Art?

Eileen Cunis

Introduction

In his 1999 Letter to Artists, Pope John Paul II recognized and honored the unique place the artist holds in the Church and in the human community. The artist, writes the Pope, is given by God “a spark of his own surpassing wisdom, calling him to share in his creative power.” Despite the insurmountable difference between the infinite and eternal God and finite man, “the human craftsman mirrors the image of God as Creator.” It is through his contemplation of the wonder of his gift that the artist apprehends its meaning: [Read more…]

Illinois Farmers

Michael Lee Johnson

Illinois writer in the land of Lincoln

new harvest without words
plenty of sugar pie plum, peach cobbler pie,

buried in grandma sugar;

factory sweets and low flowing river nearby—
transports of soy bean, corn, and cattle feed

into the wide bass mouth of the Kishwakee River.

[Read more…]

Restoring the Fresco of Progress

Wilfred M. McClay

We have become uneasy with the very concept of progress. We are not prepared to give it up entirely; that would be nearly inconceivable. Peel away the ironic surface of even the most insouciant postmodern pose, and you find revealed, startling as a ghost, some brightly colored and long-forgotten fresco, a gaudy metanarrative of progress still silently at work, shaping our choices of ends and means and norms. There are many such hidden frescoes still at work today. The West is still remarkably committed to the idea of purposive action, and resistant to the lure of fatalism, perhaps because rebellion against the binding power of necessity forms the very core of Western identity. [Read more…]

The Sight

Mary Ann Honaker

Seeing is a discipline.
I look at the same tree every day:
now its bark is black, wet with recent rain;
now striped by the sun, its leaves aflame;
now its lower leaves ablush with wine red,
its crown a deep and murky green;
now it dances naked in the biting winter wind.
How often do I see? [Read more…]

“Paradise with a Serpent:” An Interview with Carlos Eire

Bernardo Aparicio García and Katy Carl

Carlos Eire is now a distinguished history professor at Yale University, but in 1959 he was an eight-year-old boy living in Havana who went by the name of Carlos Nieto. His 2003 memoir Waiting for Snow in Havana, winner of the National Book Award, tells the story of that transformation. I first heard of Eire shortly after graduating from college in 2005, when I was thinking of pursuing graduate studies in history. At that time I was intrigued by the title of his memoir—it reminded me of my own snow-deprived childhood in Colombia. I almost picked up the book a year or two later when it was chosen as the featured title for the One Book, One Philadelphia reading project, but other work and other reading prevented me from getting around to it until this spring. [Read more…]

Confessions

Nick Ripatrazone

wet stalks of wheat lean
against mottled burgundy paint:
a dappled barn, batten winking
with each shift of cloud.

rain-filled gutters rupture
like stretched bladders
and the barn soaks. [Read more…]

De virtute cannibalismi

Eleanor Bourg Donlon

For Reverend Bruno Mary Shah, O.P.
Ordained to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ
May 29, 2009

Te ergo quaesumus, tuis famulis subveni:
quos pretioso sanguine redemisti.
Aeterna fac cum sanctis tuis in gloria numerari.

“Setting aside the moral question for a moment . . .”

“What do you mean setting it aside?”

“ . . . we can be as lucid as the Master from Aquino.”

“Is lucidity the primary virtue in such a question? I ask myself!”

“For me, lucidity is greatly facilitated by a rested mind and a full stomach.” [Read more…]